United States Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday offered Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas a package of Israeli concessions, including the transfer of land from Israeli to Palestinian control, in return for agreeing to return to the negotiating table.
Kerry, making his third visit to the region in two weeks, made the offers during a meeting with Abbas in Ramallah on Sunday night, Palestinian media reported. However, Abbas stuck firm to his demand that Israel put a moratorium on settlement construction as a precondition for returning to the negotiating table.
The package included transferring control of more land in the West Bank from Area C, under full Israeli control, to become Area A, under full Palestinian control.
In addition, Kerry promised that Israel would commit to releasing frozen tax rebates and not withholding tax funds in the future.
Last month, and in the wake of the visit to Israel by President Barack Obama, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised to release tax funds to the PA that were stopped in December 2012 after the successful Palestinian bid to obtain non-member state status at the United Nations. At the time, Israel decided to withhold over $100 million in monthly tax and custom duties that it routinely collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority according to the stipulations of the Oslo Accords. It did hand over one monthly installment in January.
Abbas reportedly told Kerry he would only budge with a settlement freeze and the release of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons, the report said.
Kerry arrived in Israel earlier on Sunday after visiting Turkey and attempting to mend Turkish-Israeli ties.
The secretary of state was scheduled to attend a Holocaust Day memorial ceremony on Monday, followed by a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.